Under the Success Stories section of our blog, we publish
Today we’d like to introduce you to RJ Rise, a school teacher, rising children’s book author, and an Ecwid merchant. RJ’s teaching experience inspired him to create action and coloring books for kids. Even though it was a completely new niche for RJ, he launched his books, started an online store and mastered social media marketing for his brand. Let’s meet RJ and find out how he did it!
Why I Decided to Create Books for Children
My name is RJ Rise and I’m the Chief Confidence Booster at Ultimate 5 Squad. I started Ultimate 5 Squad out of necessity: I noticed there was a lack of positive superhero characters in books on the market for children. I knew families regardless of color, or social background deserved to see more black positive superhero characters in books. When children, especially minority children, see themselves represented on print or TV, they instantly recognize it and it boosts their confidence.
At the moment Ultimate 5 Squad has two products. The first one is an action book that boosts
How I Created My First Book
Creating my first book was a bit challenging. It’s been close to a
The first stage for me was coming up with a name for the book, the names of the characters, and the general idea behind the story. I wanted to form an idea of what the focus of the story would be. Once I did, that became the driving theme of the book. Then, I reached out to someone with experience to help me add layers to the characters, and develop the environment where the story takes place. We spent weeks answering a lot of questions about not only the roles of the characters but the book.
I would say the longest part was creating illustrations and conveying my ideas clearly to bring them to life. As the illustrations were something that wasn’t in my control, I partnered together with an illustrator. I like his style and attention to detail, we went to work and began the almost ten months of putting it together.
One thing I found important — to give clear and exact examples of what you want the characters, background images, etc. to look like. To help the illustrator know exactly what you want, find images on Google that they can use a reference.
As far as printers, many local shops will print you a copy. I would first visit your local bookstore and see what sizes, colors, binding are popular for your demographic. Buy a book and look at the font, font size, font color, line spacing, word count per page, number of pages, reading level, etc. Really study that book.
After your research, take that book to a local printer and find out how much it will cost to get a sample made for something similar. This step is key for figuring out your overhead cost. And deciding at what price you’ll sell the book in order to make a profit.
The first major success for Ultimate 5 Squad was watching the orders, in the beginning, go from single digits a week to now seeing daily sales.
Another milestone has been the reviews and conversations we’ve had with customers. Their feedback and happiness with the products are extremely touching! For example, a customer said to me: I look forward to buying the next book. Thank you for providing an amazing book and inspiration that is needed at this crazy time.
Getting feedback like this, receiving positive reviews on social media, and welcoming followers on my live read out louds makes me believe that Ultimate 5 Squad is not only a product but also a movement.
How I Sell My Books Online
I decided to sell books online with Ecwid
It took me about one month to understand Ecwid, and then about two weeks after that to get my first sale.
Another thing about Ecwid
How I Promote My Books
I promoted the launch of my first book through word of mouth initially. First I told friends and family about Ultimate 5 Squad and then used social media to reach a wider audience.
Now I promote my store using Facebook and Instagram. Using stories, posts, captions, and graphics help the public understand what you’re all about. I use them to show how we’re different from competitors. When promoting your product, it’s useful to spell out the value you bring, the pains you solve. Social media allows you to do that while also communicating with customers.
Free downloadable products
Apart from action and coloring books, I offer free downloadable worksheets in my store, created myself using Canva.
These free worksheets help in promoting my business by gaining the trust of my potential clients. Maybe they’re checking me out for the first time out of curiosity. I want to make sure I give them a great special gift. It’s something I could be charging for but I’d rather give it to them and build their trust with the brand.
Tips on Promoting Your First Product
I couldn’t promote my store without my marketing assistant Yullia Konovnitsyna. She’s the brains behind the marketing and website optimization. Between the two of us, we have clear goals and see how best to use Ecwid
As a solopreneur myself, I know that promoting your product without any marketing experience can be challenging. That’s why Yulia and I would like to share some marketing tips for aspiring Ecwid merchants:
1. Start small
It’s easy to get excited about your new business and start creating product variations, merchandise, samples, freebies, bundles, etc. But as a new business, you should always prioritize keeping costs low, your sales page simple and not overwhelming your
2. Pick a niche
Don’t try to be everything to everybody. What is the ONE THING you are going to focus on with your brand that will distinguish you from a broader market? How is your product special and who is it made for? At Ultimate 5 Squad, I am creating superhero books that book children’s confidence and expose them to protagonist characters of color.
3. Know your audience
Any purchase has a hierarchy of
If you are selling a digital course on photography, you should consider different
4. Add value via your content strategy
Your social media presence can make or break your business these days. Don’t just post a sales pitch on your digital channels. ADD VALUE every day. Give free advice on your subject matter. Make
5. Build credibility
As a new business, you start from scratch, often with no reputation or credibility. That can deter many from trusting your product/service. There are many ways you can address this — here are a few you can start with:
- Identify a few
micro-influencersin your product niche and offer to send them your product/sample your service for free, then ask for video or written testimonials and permission to use that content. Ask them to also share it on their platforms to drive new traffic to your store.
- Ask for feedback within a few days of delivering your product/service to the buyer. They are most excited about your brand and if they are happy, they will be willing to leave a review.
- Integrate online reviews into your product pages, or setup a Google my Business page for your service brand where clients can rate your service.
- Find opportunities to share your story via
non-traditionalmedia — blogs, podcasts, social media takeovers of brand pages, webinars, digital events in the age of COVID-19,etc.
My Best Tip: Give and Communicate More
My formula for success is to give more than you take. Give more value, more value, more value! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Also, when replying to comments or questions on social media posts to potential customers, give thoughtful replies. By taking the time to reply to them, you help them and others understand what your brand is about.
Create Your Product and Start Selling Online
RJ’s story proves everyone can create and sell their products: you don’t need coding skills, a huge budget, or a special diploma. What you do need is a great idea and confidence that you can make a difference with your product.
Many other Ecwid merchants noticed a need for a product and decided to create it themselves. For example, Angela Brathwaite was inspired to create a unique item for women while recovering from surgery. Learn how she patented and manufactured it on our podcast!
If you also want to create and sell a product for a market need, check out our blog posts focused on this subject specifically:
- Design Thinking: How to Develop a New Product that Solves a Problem
- How to Create a Product Prototype
Have a product already? You may need some practical tips and instructions that we put together in this
Subscribe to the Ecwid blog to read more inspiring stories like this one, and if you have a story of your own, don’t hesitate to share it in comments!